Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Remember the 51st, remember St Valery

For immediate use
13 June 2010

Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has supported calls for the history and heroic bravery of the 51st Highland Division to be better known.

The division who were ordered by Churchill to fight (along with the French) a regard action against elite German Divisions to defend the retreat of the British Forces at Dunkirk 70 years ago has been marked this weekend at ceremonies in the Normandy town of St Valery En Caux.

Mr Gibson has supported a parliamentary motion from Alasdair Allan, SNP MSP for the Western Isles. It praises those of the 51st who deserve greater credit than they have been afforded.

"Their selfness at helping the French defend the retreat and slow up the German advance allowed 100,000 others to get back over the channel at Dunkirk."

"The Scots and in particular the Highlanders have had a long and proud military history, but the story of St Valéry is one of the most heroic and heart breaking that there is. For many there was only capture and a death march across Europe or hiding in the nearby countryside."

"In France their heroism is well known but I fear that the story needs to be taught in schools. I visited the poignant memorial on the cliffs above St Valery several years ago. The plaque in French, Gaelic and English is very moving. The Highland Division took in soldiers from Caithness to the Western Isles and beyond. Just like the under recognition for the brave seamen on the Arctic convoys, the men of the 51st should be honoured, not forgotten."

Note: Rob will join the Reviewing Officer at the Tain 'Help for Heroes' ceremony on 19th June to honour present day soldiers wounded in action in today's wars.

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